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Hot Air Alert

Hot Air Alert: President Obama Spins State of the Union Speech to Claim Credit for Inherited Energy Successes

Administration’s Supposed Pro-Energy Rhetoric Does Not Match Anti-Energy Policies

For as much as President Obama complains about the bad economy that he inherited, he sure seems to be enjoying the inherited boom in U.S. oil and gas production on private and state lands. Last night President Obama dedicated a significant portion of his State of the Union speech to weaving a tale about what his Administration has done for American energy production. Unfortunately for the American people, President Obama’s energy policies have destroyed jobs and made America less energy secure. Here’s a look at what the Obama Administration has really done to American energy production.

CLAIM: “American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years.”


  • Increases in onshore or offshore oil and natural gas production can be attributed to previous Presidents Bush and Clinton’s pro-energy policies and the significant increase in energy production on state and private lands.
  • For example, North Dakota alone produced almost 16 million barrels of oil in January 2011, compared to only a little more than 2 million in January 2002.

    The majority of North Dakota’s production is on state and private land where the Obama Administration’s restrictive policies cannot hinder production.

CLAIM: “Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration.”


  • The Obama Administration has closed millions of areas offshore and onshore to energy production.
  • President Obama effectively reinstated an offshore drilling ban off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, closed off parts of the Arctic to offshore drilling, blocked uranium mining on one million acres of land in Arizona, withdrew oil and natural gas leases in Utah, and is now imposing mandatory ocean zoning that could limit all types of energy production.
  • The total onshore acreage leased under the Obama Administration in 2009 and 2010 is the lowest in over two decades, stretching back to at least 1984.
  • Under the Obama Administration, 2010 had the LOWEST number of onshore leases issued since 1984.

CLAIM: “I’m directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.”


  • There is LESS offshore acreage open for energy production now than there was when President Obama took office when nearly 100% of the OCS was open for production.
  • The Administration’s draft five-year plan prohibits offshore drilling in NEW areas and only allows lease sales to occur in areas that are already open.
  • President Obama is being misleading by saying that 75% of our offshore “resources” are open. The REAL number should be acres—of the 1.76 billion acres in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, only 38 million acres—or a mere 2.16%—is actually leased for energy development.
  • The draft plan only allows lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic – leaving portions of Alaska and the entire Atlantic and Pacific Coasts off-limits to new energy production and job creation.

CLAIM: “With only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, oil isn’t enough.”


  • The President is ignoring the majority of America’s energy resources. The 2% figure is a narrow estimate based on the United States’ “proven” oil reserves – currently measured at 28.4 billion barrels of oil. “Proven” reserves only means oil where we have drilled and confirmed there is oil in the ground.
  • However, according to CRS the U.S. actually has 134.5 billion barrels of recoverable oil, the vast majority of which we haven’t drilled into to confirm if more could be there.
  • Total recoverable energy reserves for the United States (combining oil, natural gas and coal) are 1.3 trillion barrels of oil equivalent – the largest in the world.
  • This number does not even take into account the large oil shale reserves in the United States. The Department of Energy estimates 1.38 trillion barrels of shale oil are recoverable from approximately 7.8 million acres of federal land. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that our oil shale reserves could be greater than 1.5 trillion barrels of oil. This is five times larger than Saudi Arabia’s proven reserves.


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